Western Crowned Champions in Class A

28 Mar

CBNBnMMUcAAmdA6.jpg-large“Cream always rises to the top, you can shake it up however you want, before the game is over,” said Detroit Western head coach Derrick McDowell, “ball players usually rise to the surface.”

McDowell’s Cowboys did the rise to the top in Class A, and have plenty of ball players.

Western, 26-0, withstood multiple Saginaw Arthur Hill spurts to capture the school’s first ever basketball state championship.

In the biggest game of his life, senior Josh McFolley felt some discomfort in his leg.  His Cowboys were in the midst of a back-and-forth dog fight with Arthur Hill in the third quarter.  Josh re-entered the game, and with his team up 33-32 with under three minutes before the fourth.  McFolley scored the team’s next eight points to conclude the period.  The energy the Cowboys would ride into the fourth.

“I wasn’t going to let any little soreness get me,” said McFolley.  “I knew my team needed me.”

Fellow senior Gerald Blackshear was the recipient of three McFolley assists in the early fourth, as the Cowboys built a commanding 13 point lead at one point.

Arthur Hill would not lie down lightly, but the Lumberjacks could not get the deficit below four.  Western had a response for every Arthur Hill charge  All-state senior guard Eric Davis fouled out of the game on an and-one with 1:34.  SAH did however cut the deficit to as low as four at one point, but junior guard Karim Murray connected on four free-throws in the final minutes to secure the Cowboy hardware.  Dequavion Johnson did hit a three with 12.1 left to place the Hill down four, but the Lumberjacks lost all their timeouts in the process before so.

McFolley paced Western with a team-high 19 points, to go along with six steals, Blackshear added 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Murray contributed 15 points.

“We got production from a lot of people,” added McDowell.

Brian Bowen led the Hill with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Texas bound Eric Davis concluded his stellar high school career with 15 points and six rebounds.

The win for McDowell hands the veteran coach his first state championship.  Coach McDowell has always been respected in Detroit basketball.  Before his current position at Western, McDowell won multiple city titles as the head man for Detroit Redford.  McDowell noted he often use to share his glory day Redford stories with his team during the season, but not anymore.

“This is my fourth time here, and I finally got it,” he added.  “I’m done with the Redford stories, it’s on to the McFolley, Blackshear, and Neely stories.”

Lost in the press of the day was junior guard Brailen Neely.  He scored just eight points, but at times during the year served at the Cowboys leading scorer, and facilitator.  Neely has seen both the good and bad of Cowboy basketball.  A three-year varsity player, Neely is astonished with the growth of the program.

“It was a process,” said Neely of getting to where he’s at today.  “Freshman year, we we’re young, we had 1 senior, we had a lot of growing to do.  Next year, we thought we had it.  We wasn’t really listening and it showed in our game.  This year we were all on Coach McDowell page.”

The 2014-2015 season for Western can be divided into two ways, before January, and after January.  Before January, the aforementioned McFolley and Blackshear could not participate following transfers from Mt. Clemens.  Despite not having two division one recruits on the floor, Western stood strong, 9-0.  Contrary to popular belief, Coach McDowell was adamant about his belief Western was a state championship contender without Josh and Gerald.

“I had all the pieces anyway, those were just extra pieces,” McDowell said.  “We weren’t looking for them to come in and be Batman and Robin.  We had enough to win.”

Coach McDowell’s persona on the sideline is of a strict general, however, his players finally managed to force their coach show some emotion.  When it was for certain his team would receive the trophy, he displayed the often unknown lighter side of him.  To the joyous reception of his players.


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